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Military mocked after asking if anyone has seen its missing F-35 stealth jet valued over $78 million
Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images

Military mocked after asking if anyone has seen its missing F-35 stealth jet valued over $78 million

A U.S. military base is asking nearby residents to give them a ring if they happen to find the Marine Corps' missing F-35B Lightning II.

Officials' apparent inability to track down the stealth aircraft has resulted in some lampoonery online, ranging from posting photoshopped camping selfies with the F-35B to invoking the ages-old rule of "finders keepers."

The missing jet, one of 353 belonging to the USMC and priced at over $78 million, was "involved in a mishap" on Sunday afternoon, according to Joint Base Charleston.

While the pilot thankfully managed to eject and is now in stable condition, it's unclear where his jet from the Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing ended up.

"Based on the jet's last known position and in coordination with the FAA, we are focusing our attention north of JB Charleston, around Lake Moultrie and Lake Marion," JBC indicated in a statement on X.

The search has so far been focused on Lake Moultrie, which spans 60,000 acres and has a maximum depth of 75.47 feet.

Jeremy Huggins, a spokesman at JBC, told the Washington Post the jet's transponder was not working "for some reason that we haven't yet determined," hence the public request for help.

"The aircraft is stealth, so it has different coatings and different designs that make it more difficult than a normal aircraft to detect," added Huggins.

Newsweek reported that the jet could travel for hundreds of miles on autopilot, meaning Americans farther afield might similarly play a role in its location.

The Air Force, which is helping the Marine Corps find the runaway vessel, defines a "mishap" as "an unplanned event or series of events that results in damage to DoD property; occupational illness to DoD personnel; injury to on or off-duty DoD military personnel; injury to on-duty DoD civilian personnel; or damage to public or private property, or injury or illness to non-DoD personnel, caused by DoD activities."

This particular mishap would likely fall under the category of a Class A Mishap, as the aircraft is no doubt destroyed, costing well over the minimum $2,500,000.

An F-35B Lighting II Joint Strike Fighter also crashed in Texas last December. The pilot safely bailed out in that instance as well, reported USNI News.

In response to JBC's request for help finding the missing aircraft, one user wrote, "Finders keepers."

Another user tweeted, "Gray with white spots, approx. 24,000 pounds, answers to the name 'Stealthy.'"

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) tweeted, "What are the F-35's pronouns?"

"Dude, Where's My F-35?" read one meme, referencing the 2000 Ashton Kutcher film "Dude, Where's My Car?" about a pair of irresponsible wastoids who lose track of their vehicle after a night of debauchery.

Another user posted a "Where's Waldo?" scene incorporating the downed vessel.

A satirical Facebook Marketplace advertisement for a "Gently used F-35 Fighter" also made its way to X.

JBC has invited anyone who might have seen a smoldering multimillion-dollar wreck north of Charleston to call 843-963-3600.

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